"...there has been no let up in the murders, attempted murders and death threats in Colombia and that the authorities appear to be no nearer to carrying out a full investigation into the crimes committed almost daily against the trade union movement."
The murdered trade unionists come from all sectors, including teachers, bank, factory, and health workers.
Ironically, several of the murders this year took place around the march “For the Dignity of Victims” held in Colombia earlier this year. On March 6, 2008, over 200,000 people participated in the “March Against State Terror” in Colombia. Between March 4, 2008 and March 11, 2008, hundreds of organizers and human rights activists were threatened. The organizer of the march and four other human rights spokespeople were killed, along with four trade union leaders for the Confederation of Colombian Workers.
Colombia is the most dangerous place to live if you are a union leader, activist or member: 3,000 have been murdered since 1985, according to an annual survey of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
“Colombia has a long and appalling record as the most dangerous place on earth for trade unionists, with dozens of killings taking place each year. Only a tiny fraction of these have been investigated properly. The government must fulfill its responsibility to protect trade unionists and end the culture of impunity which has reigned for so long”, said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder.
The complicity of U.S.-based multinational corporations in attacks on union leaders is well documented.
Cases have been brought against Coca-Cola, the Drummond mining company and Occidental Petroleum accusing them of supporting paramilitaries that terrorize and kill union organizers.
In the meantime, the Hillary Clinton campaign is being rocked today by labor protests over relations between Columbia and chief strategist Mark Penn.
Penn met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. on Monday to discuss a bilateral free-trade agreement which Clinton opposes. According to the Wall Street Journal he wasn’t there in his campaign role, but in his separate job as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, an international communications and lobbying firm. The firm has a contract with the South American nation to promote congressional approval of the trade deal, among other things, according to filings with the Justice Department.
According to the Justice Department, the Columbian government has paid Penn's firm $300,000 to lobby for Columbia's point of view and to secure $5 billion for the war on drugs program known as Plan Colombia.
Whatever hat he happens to be wearing, Penn is meeting with representatives of a regime of a country where more unionists are killed each year than in the rest of the world's countries combined.
The sad truth, of course, is that if we were to scrutinize the campaign of any major candidates for President of this country, we'd find that Penn's failure to be bothered bothered by dealing with murderers is not uncommon for campaign staff.
The following request is from UNI Global Union.
Assassination of trade unionist in Colombia -
On March 8 Leonidas Gomez Rozo was shot dead at his home in Bogotá. He worked at CITI BANK and was a trade union leader who performed a number of functions in the Union of Colombian Bank Employees and in the Unitarian Workers Central of Colombia.
His assassination took place after a number of threats had been received via email by various social and human rights organisations warning that the campaign against the members of the families of leaders opposed to the government would be intensified.
Leonidas Gomez Rozo had been playing an important role in helping to implement the goals fixed by UNI in Colombia.
UNI has sent a letter of protest to the President of Colombia and we would also ask you to send a protest message against this assassination and to demand that the Colombian government carry out a rapid and exhaustive inquiry and bring to justice the persons who ordered and carried out this new crime against the Colombian trade union movement and to ask that the necessary measures be put in place to put an end once and for all to the violence perpetrated against the trade union movement and other civil society organisations.
A click and go message has been set up at
Thank you for your solidarity.